SENATOR THE HON KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
FRIDAY, 18 OCTOBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Airplane arrivals and exploitation happening on Peter Dutton’s watch; Police Powers at Airports Bill; Medevac Senate Inquiry report; a message to Peter Dutton.
KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: Mr Dutton's obsession with me is bordering on the unhinged. I suggest he spend some time confronting the crisis that's occurring at our airports, that is, a blowout in airplane arrivals – 95,000 applications for asylum. We know that some 90 per cent of them are not refugees; they are being trafficked here to work in exploited conditions. For a Government that maintains it's doing its job to secure the borders, when we have an explosion of asylum arrivals through our airports, and we have the trafficking of workers and what we now know being held in conditions sometimes akin to slavery – that's what Mr Dutton should be focusing on.
JOURNALIST: Did you make a unilateral decision on the police border powers?
JOURNALIST: So you consulted with your colleagues on whether you should support Centre Alliance's amendments?
KENEALLY: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely, I did.
JOURNALIST: And so your colleagues are happy with that?
JOURNALIST: They haven't raised any concerns?
JOURNALIST: The Home Affairs Minister said that, you know, Anthony Albanese needs to rein you in and that you're running the show.
KENEALLY: The Home Affairs Minister needs to get on top of his portfolio. He's seen a blowout – 95,000 airplane arrivals under this third term Liberal Government's watch. He is overseeing a system that has blown out when it comes to the arrival of asylum seekers at our airports. 95,000 people. If Mr Dutton would just do his job, he might be able to control the borders that our airports.
JOURNALIST: Just one on Medevac quickly – will you be picking up the phone to talk to Jacqui Lambie as she reads through the Senate Inquiry report?
KENEALLY: The report will be tabled today and I encourage all Senators to have a very good look at it.
JOURNALIST: Do you have a message to her?
KENEALLY: I have a message to Australians and that is that when we're sick, we go to see the doctor. And that's what Medevac provides – that sick people are able to get the healthcare that they need. What it also provides, is it the Minister retains control over who comes to this country and Minister Dutton displayed and proved that fact this week when he used to the Medevac laws to deny a person entry to Australia. Now you’ll remember that the Minister, and the Prime Minister, both claimed that they would be unable to stop people coming into Australia because of Medevac. This very week Peter Dutton used the law as it was intended to be used. That is to make sure that sick people can get the treatment that they need and people who are risk to this country are not able to enter it.
JOURNALIST: Are there two opposing reports though? And how do you expect (inaudible)
KENEALLY: There is a report and it contains, as many Senate reports do, dissenting comments from Opposition Senators. So as you would expect on this Medevac bill, the Government has stated – its Government members have stated – their position the bill should be repealed and Labor members have stated, our position that we support Medevac because it is a law that is working. It is working to ensure that sick people get the healthcare they need.
JOURNALIST: Isn't this just the status quo though? How will actually help give Jacqui Lambie any clarity?
KENEALLY: There are a number of submissions made to the Medevac inquiry by a range of stakeholders and their views are reflected in the report.
JOURNALIST: One more question – your supporters have said that the Home Affairs Minister's criticisms are bordering on misogyny. Would you agree with them? Do you feel that's the case?
KENEALLY: What I would encourage Peter Dutton to do is to put his feet under his desk and understand that he has got a Department that ranks 97th out of 97 departments for morale. That one third of the Department of Home Affairs staff have said in a survey that they want to work somewhere else. He has seen a blowout in citizenship application processing times. People are waiting 410 days – people that want to pledge allegiance to this country, already here as permanent residents – and are unable to get their citizenship because Peter Dutton does not have control the Department of Home Affairs. His incompetence is writ large. We've seen blowouts in parent visa processing times, child visa processing times, partner visa processing times. The Auditor General has, in a scathing report, described Mr Dutton's incompetence when it comes to the basic functions of the Department of Home Affairs, and then we get to the fact there are two Cape Class patrol boats sitting in dock in Western Australia that the Department of Home Affairs has never put out to sea. Never put out to sea. We also have the blowout in asylum arrivals at our airports. 95,000 people. The Department of Home Affairs is overseeing the exploitation of migrant workers being trafficked into this country. Peter Dutton has failed to notice that the people smugglers have changed their business model from boats to planes and, quite frankly, he really should be noticing this. It's been Jason Wood, his Assistant Minister, who pointed it out last year and a Migration Committee report. Their new Member from Mallee, Anne Webster, has described this as a crisis. The only person in the Government who seems not to have noticed this is Peter Dutton.